Opened: February 2023
James Beard Award-winning chef Nobuo Fukuda is the epitome of a “tough act to follow,” but Fabian and Julie Ocampo rise admirably to the challenge at their South American restaurant in Downtown Phoenix. Shuttering their popular food truck and sliding comfortably into Fukuda’s old digs at Heritage Square, the Ocampos (he’s the chef, she’s the manager) thrill with a lunch menu fronted by sofrito-drizzled empanadas ($6) and open-face, crispy-chewy plantain tostones ($14 for 3); the former stuffed with braised chicken or pork, the latter topped with the same, plus avocado, pickled onions and other fresh appointments. Both are succulent and dripping with fatty juices. Conditions get even more favorable after 4 p.m., when Fabian unleashes his menu of Peruvian-style ceviche and tiraditos (i.e. Colombian crudo). The Que Sazón tiradito, supple fillets of escolar resting in a milky citrus-fish stock called leche de tigre with dabs of chile-mango purée, is paired with deep-fried ringlets of calamari ($19, pictured). It’s heart-racing both to see and eat, the umami of the fish thrillingly offset by the satisfying crunch of its sidekicks. Inspired by Fabian’s Colombian heritage, the Que Sazón menu is seasonal and evolving, and – in a town generally lacking for gourmet Latin cooking south of Mexico – instantly essential.
Wild Card: Get jiggy with loaded fries ($15-$18) at lunch, paired with $6 house sangria or something nice off the Spain- and Chile-dominated wine list.
622 E. Adams St., 602-919-2246